Marseille October 1934

9th October 1934. A Bulgarian citizen assassinates King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in Marseille, one of the earliest terrorist attacks in France of the 20th Century. Аlso killed was one of Europe's most distinguished politicians, the French Foreign Minister and ex Prime Minister, Louis Barthou. The assassin, Vlado Chernozemski, was himself killed straight afterwards.

Chernozemski was a conspirator who saw himself as a Macedonian revolutionary. He was born Velichko Kerin in 1897 in the village of Kamenitsa in south western Bulgaria, and joined the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization IMRO in 1922.

In 1928 Chernozemski was sentenced to death for murder, but was granted amnesty in 1932. He was responsible for the murder of yet another Macedonian activist on the order of IMROs leader Ivan Mihailov.

Chernozemski was said to have planned to enter the League of Nations in Geneva and blow himself up as a sign of protest against the League's failure to act over the situation in Vardar-Macedonia (then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia).

Until May 1934 the IMRO had de facto control of Bulgaria's south western part, raised "taxes" and acted as a state within a state, with the unofficial support of the political and military establishment in Sofia. The IMRO also established close links with Mussolini's Italy and with the Croatian Ustasha (Ustaše) fascist movement, sharing what they saw as a common enemy in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

During the 1920s and 1930s numerous assassinations were carried out by IMRO across Europe and in Yugoslavia. Often the logistics were organised by Croat supporters who were more worldly and experienced in travelling through Europe than IMRO's agents. Croats usually provided forged passports, escort and shelter, like they did in Marseille in October 1934.

King Alexander was buried in the Memorial Church of St. George in the Oplenac Royal Mausoleum, near the town of Topola. This newsreel shows King Alexander's widow, the Queen consort Maria of Yugoslavia (the daughter of Queen Marie of Romania) and Alexander's 11-year son Peter, later King Peter II Karadjordjevic.

Also seen here is Hitler's deputy Hermann Goering in conversation with Marshal Pétain, then France's Minister of War. In the next shot is Prince Kiril of Bulgaria. King Boris III, who had shown King Alexander around his royal palaces in Bulgaria only a few days earlier, (28-30 September) expressed condolences, but sent to the funeral his younger brother.

The assassination in Marseille is still not included in the school curriculum in Bulgaria.